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Margherita Fava: Tatatu

Margherita Fava: Tatatu
Italian pianist Margherita Fava comes across as a mature composer and a sensitive performer on her captivating debut Tatatu. Based in Knoxville Tennessee, USA, Fava is a consummate musician and educator whose unique set of talents is on full display here as she leads a quartet on two covers and six of her poetic originals.

For instance, her "Tidal Waves" has a mystical atmosphere. Over the rhythm trio's percolating refrains saxophonist Greg Tardy lets loose a lyrical melody with reserved passion. Fava builds a contemplative improvisation with sparse and chiming chords. Tardy, then takes his turn in the spotlight with pensive spontaneity while drummer Michael J. Reed's thunderous solo imbues the ethereal piece with a visceral earthiness.

Elsewhere, on the intriguing "Restless Mind," Fava sets a tense mood with her angular phrases and crystalline tonal cascades. Tardy deftly weaves a fiery, incandescent soliloquy within this complex and dynamic sonic tapestry. Fava's extemporization is equal parts European romanticism and simmering blues while demonstrating her mastery of the keys.

Perhaps the centerpiece of this uniformly superb album is the cinematic "Restless Mind"; the band quickly builds an expectant ambience with Tardy stating the melancholic theme. Then, bassist Javier Enrique lays down a funky beat with soulful swagger and reverberating vamps. The tune seamlessly evolves into a riotous repartee, marked by Tardy's wailing tenor. The four-way conversation increases in excitement, setting the stage for Fava and her cool pianism on a virtuosic and far reaching solo. Then, seamlessly, the band returns to the wistful head with elegance and panache.

Fava interprets both standards with a rare balance of deference to the source material as well as a deeply personal touch. Whether she is tastefully exhibiting her instrumental prowess on pianist Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning" or embellishing songwriter Jerome Kern's "All the Things You Are," she is able to put her stylistic mark on them without losing sight of the pieces' essence.

The brilliant Tatatu is surprisingly accomplished for a first outing. It begs the question: If this is Fava's freshman effort, how promising must her future be?

Track Listing

Face Off; Tidal Waves; Rhythm-A-Ning; Bird of Passage; Resilience; All The Things You Are; Restless Mind; Hard To Say.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Tatatu | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Caligola Records


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